NASA‘s Perseverance rover has spent the last week on the surface of Mars and in that short time has already sent back thousands of photos – including a cheeky selfie.
The latest rover from the US space agency landed on the Red Planet just before 21:00 GMT on Thursday, February 18 after a hair raising ‘7-minutes of terror’.
The $2.2 billion vehicle is equipped with 23 cameras including nine for engineering work, seven for science and seven to help it land on the Martian surface.
The first image sent back from Mars was a grainy, dust covered black and white picture taken by one of the Navigation Cameras and shows rocks of various sizes littering the Jezero crater.
Moments after touchdown, Perseverance beamed back its first black-and-white images from the Martian surface
Among the most iconic images sent back was the rover dangling over the Martian surface, attached to the sky crane that helped it safely land on the Red Planet.
Other images returned include a sensational high resolution 360-degree panorama of the Martian landscape and a video of Perseverance’s nail biting landing.
The cameras on Perseverance all serve multiple purposes, beyond simply sending back images showing the landscape, sunrise, sunset and skyline of another world.
The space agency said the rover’s cameras will help scientists assess the geologic history and atmospheric conditions of Jezero Crater and identify rocks and sediment worthy of a closer examination and collection for eventual return to Earth.
Pictured is an image snapped by the sky crane as it lowered NASA’s Perseverance down to Mars’ surface using long mechanical bridles
The sky crane (pictured) lowered the car-sized rover to Martian surface with long mechanical bridles and flew off to a safe distance where it crashed into the surface – and Perseverance captured its selfless act
NASA PERSEVERANCE CAMERAS
There are 23 cameras mounted to the Perseverance rover including:
Nine engineering cameras, seven science cameras and seven for entry, descent and landing.
The engineering cameras give detailed information in colour about the terrain the rover has to cross.
They measure the ground for safe driving, check out the status of hardware and support sample gathering.
There are HazCams for hazard detection and Navcams for navigation.
Science cameras record in more detail and can even capture 3D images.
The Mastcam-Z on a 2 metre arm has a zoom feature for focusing on distant objects and can film video.
The Supercam fires a laser at mineral targets beyond the reach of the rovers arm to analysed the chemical composition of the rock.
The camera system can reveal details as small as 3 to 5 millimetres across near the rover and 2 to 3 meters across in the distant slopes along the horizon.
The majority of cameras on the vehicle are designed for engineering use, and they give detailed information – in colour – about the terrain the rover has to cross.
They measure the ground for safe driving, check out the status of hardware on the vehicle for analysis and support sample gathering – a core mission objective.
There are HazCams for hazard detection and Navcams for navigation, cameras that shoot lasers and those that film video or capture 3D views.
So far the majority of images have come from the various entry, descent and landing camera – including those looking at the parachute, descent stage and rover.
There are more than 4,625 images taken by the landing and descent cameras, with about 600 coming from the left and right science ‘Mastcam-Z’.
This makes sense given we are only a week into a mission that could last more than a decade, capturing hundreds of thousands of images, videos and audio files.
For comparison, NASA Curiosity, the rover that has been on Mars since 2012, has captured almost 400,000 images of the Red Planet from fewer cameras.
Mastcam-Z’s design is an evolution of NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover’s Mastcam instrument, which has two cameras of fixed focal length rather than zoomable.
The two cameras on Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z dual cameras are mounted on the rover’s mast at eye level for a person 2 meters tall.
They sit 24.1 centimeters apart to provide stereo vision and can produce colour images with a quality similar to that of a consumer digital HD camera.
A number of sensational images, video and even audio clips have already been shared of the Red Planet from Perseverance’s array of cameras and equipment.
At about 7,000 feet into the decent, the cameras captured the sky crane manoeuvre over the landing site. As Perseverance is lowered, it kicks up dust on the ground that may have sat in the same place for billions of years
This is the shining heat shield dropping away from Perseverance, which protected the rover as it soared through temperatures of 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit
NASA used a large parachute to slow the rover and online detectives discovered the red and white were code, reading ‘Dare Mighty Things’ and the coordinates for NASA JPL in California
The NASA team was overjoyed after hearing the news that Perseverance had landed safely on Mars
These included a hair raising video showing the ‘7-minutes of terror’ the rover went through as it descended through the Martian atmosphere to land in the crater.
The first image NASA shared from Mars, sent minutes after the vehicle landed on the Red Planet, was a grainy black and white picture through the fish eye lens of the Perseverance Hazard Cameras.
The dust obscured image showed the baron, rock covered landscape of the Jezero crater with shadows of the Perseverance rover in the foreground and the Martian sky in the background.
The image came in while mission control crew were still celebrating the successful landing in the 28-mile wide crater that was picked as a promising target for finding ancient life signs.
The rover’s rear cameras watch the sky crane fly off into the distance where it landed far enough to not interfere with Perseverance
NASA shared an image of its ‘sky crane’ sacrificing itself by intentionally crashing into Mars after it safely delivered the Perseverance rover to the Red Planet. Smoke is seen the in distance where the sky crane made impact with the Martian surface
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance orbiter also captured amazing images of Perseverance, showing it attached to the sonic parachute moments after shooting through the Martian atmosphere like a comet
Perseverance will make oxygen on Mars
The primary task for Perseverance is to search for signs of microbial life and take soil samples, but it will also conduct a host of other jobs during its operational window of one Martian year one (687 Earth days).
One of these, for example, involves investigating if Mars’ natural resources can be turned into oxygen to make breathable air for astronauts and also to make rocket fuel for return missions.
This task is called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE).
Future crewed missions to Mars will require oxygen for astronauts to breathe. Carrying oxygen from Earth to Mars is heavy and expensive.
MOXIE is designed to see if it is possible to extract oxygen from Mars and turn it into breathable air.
Mars atmosphere is more than 95 per cent of carbon dioxide and less than 0.15 per cent oxygen.
Moxie will take Martian air, heat it to 800°C, inject energy into a pair of electrodes and this then separates oxygen from the CO2.
Oxygen is pumped out of one line and waste gase are spewed out of another.
The first colour image from Perseverance came from the Hazard Camera photo, soon followed by a look down from the sky crane that placed the rover on the surface, showing the rocks and soil as the rover approached.
The sky crane manoeuvre is the final landing stage that was also used when Curiosity landed on Mars in 2012.
The detailed image, which could become an iconic image in spaceflight shows the long Nylon cords lowering Perseverance to the Martian surface, along with the rover’s mechanics and wheels dangling in the air.
This is something we’ve never seen before,’ said Aaron Stehura, NASA flight system engineer, describing himself and colleagues as ‘awe-struck’ when first viewing the image.
‘You are brought to the surface of Mars. You’re sitting there, seven meters off the surface of the rover looking down,’ he said. ‘It’s absolutely exhilarating, and it is evocative of those other images from our experience as human beings moving out into our solar system.’
After the first image they came in a flurry’s , including a close up of the wheel tracks on Perseverance, taken by the colour Hazard Cameras.
It wasn’t just pictures taken by Perseverance that captured the imagination. The HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter flying above Mars. It showed the descent stage holding Perseverance.
One of the most recent images was a sensational 360-degree panorama taken by the Navcams stitched together from six individual images after they were sent back to Earth.
It showed the deep rust-coloured orange of the Martian surface, looking towards the horizon with a light orange/pink tinged sky and a large looking Sun in the distance.
Other panorama images show the deck of the Perseverance with the equipment used to search for signs of long gone Martian microbial life and a sweeping panoramic view taken by the Mastcam-Z instrument.
After landing, two of the Hazard Cameras (Hazcams) captured views from the front and rear of the rover, showing one of its wheels in the Martian dirt
Perseverance touched down on Mars Thursday and has been sending NASA videos and footage over the weekend. Pictured is one of thousands of images the rover has taken of the Red Planet
New images from Mars shot by the NASA Perseverance rover have revealed the impressive contours of the red planet’s surface, pictures here are taken in false colour for calibration
The surface of Mars directly below NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover is seen using the Rover Down-Look Camera in a combination of images acquired February 22, 2021 in a false colour for calibration
This was the first panorama from the science camera and shows rubble like rocks in the foreground, with sweeping hills in the background, looking towards the rim of the Jezero crater.
Within the images was one of a wind carved rock with strange angles, showing the level of detail possible in the zoomable Mastcam-Z cameras on the rover.
The stunning panorama was created with 5,000 commands parameters that shot a total of 142 images that were beamed back to Earth where NASA stitched them together.
While the image may seem like a barren landscape, taking a closer look through the area reveals a number of hidden gems waiting to be investigated by Perseverance.
NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover’s onboard Left Navigation Camera (Navcam), which is located high on the rover’s mast and aids in driving, shows the surrounding area on Mars in an image acquired February 22, 2021
Also released Monday was the mission’s first panorama of the rover’s landing location, taken by the two Navigation Cameras located on its mast
NASA shared a video of the 7-minutes of terror landing on Mars that included this shot of Perseverance’s aluminum wheels making contact with the surface for the first time
Captured in stunning HD, it was taken by the rover’s Mastcam-Z, a dual-camera system equipped with a zoom function to help it focus on distant objects
To the left of the rover sits an interesting rock that NASA has named ‘harbor seal’ that was formed by Martian winds eroding it for billions of years and northeast of the rover are structures littering the ground that could have came from an ancient volcano.
More images are being shared all the time, with more than 5,600 raw images already shown on the Perseverance page – including bright red shots of the surface.
To the left of the rover sits an interesting rock that NASA has named ‘harbor seal’ that stands at a point that was formed from Martian wind eroding it for billions of years
NASA gave the world a tour of Mars using the high resolution 360-degree panorama Perseverance sent back from the Red Planet. The rover captured the scene using its powerful Mast Camera, Mastcam-Z for short, as it sat about one and a half miles from the basin of the Jezero Crater with mountains in the distance surrounding the rim
Perseverance’s main mission on Mars is astrobiology and the search for signs of ancient microbial life. All of its cameras can aide in this mission, including those designed to help it navigate the Martian surface
A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life.
The rover will characterise the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith.
Subsequent missions, currently under consideration by NASA in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these cached samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
NASA shared this stunning ‘Sun’ image taken from Mars which orbits our star every 687 days and is 227.9 million km away from it
Perseverance beamed back its first image of the crater moments after NASA established radio contact with the rover (left). The rover beamed a new image back without the camera lens that shows the Martian landscape in full color
NASA MARS 2020: THE MISSION WILL SEE THE PERSEVERANCE ROVER AND INGENUITY HELICOPTER SEARH FOR LIFE
NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will search for signs of ancient life on on the Red Planet in a bid to help scientists better understand how life evolved on Earth.
Named Perseverance, the main car-sized rover will explore an ancient river delta within the Jezero Crater, which was once filled with a 1,600ft deep lake.
It is believed that the region hosted microbial life some 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago and the rover will examine soil samples to hunt for evidence of the life.
Nasa’s Mars 2020 rover (artist’s impression) will search for signs of ancient life on Mars in a bid to help scientists better understand how life evolved on our own planet
The $2.5 billion (£1.95 billion) Mars 2020 spaceship launched on July 30 with the rover and helicopter inside – and landed successfully on February 18, 2021.
Perseverance landed inside the crater and will collect samples that will eventually be returned to Earth for further analysis.
A second mission will fly to the planet and return the samples, perhaps by the later 2020s in partnership with the European Space Agency.
This concept art shows the Mars 2020 rover landing on the red planet via NASA’s ‘sky-crane’ system